After a cagey start, the Clever Boys looked to open the lead when Lehlohonolo Majoro’s cross forced Lorenzo Gordinho to head for a corner.
The resultant corner found the head of Bongani Khumalo, but unlike his last home encounter against SuperSport United, he couldn’t profit from his usual territory.
Patrick Tignyemb was then called into action to deny them the opener when he saved Majoro’s close range header after 13 minutes.
Two minutes later, the former Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates striker tried to profit with the outside of his foot but was obscured by Gordinho and company.
The Clever Boys finally made their presence felt, albeit from the penalty spot through James Keene who stepped up to send Tignyemb the wrong way after Mpho Maruping was caught handling inside the box.
The former University of Pretoria midfielder also got his marching orders to leave Siwelele on the back foot a minute from the half and hour mark.
Celtic were looking to secure a penalty of their own after Tshegofatso Mabaso’s shot connected with Khumalo’s hand but referee Kulasande Qongqo waved away the appeal five minutes before the break.
In the second half, the Free State outfit continued their push for the equaliser and introduced Menzi Masuku to sharpen their attack.
The Students responded with the induction of Thabang Monare and veteran Elias Pelembe in an effort to see off the clash.
While at it, they were looking to grab a second goal and came close to it through Vincent Pule, but Tignyemb was on hand to abort his effort.
Pule make way for the decorated Daine Klate, and the veteran wasted no time exerting his authority on the game by playing in Majoro, but the latter couldn’t connect with his delivery 20 minutes from time.
Substitute Vusi Sikhweni forced Darren Keet into his first save of the evening after unleashing a shot from outside the box seven minutes later.
Siwelele threatened for the equaliser and the closest they came saw Deon Hotto control on the chest, but couldn’t finish off the move with a goal.
Majoro’s frustration in front of goal continued as he missed yet another close range attempt after Tignyemb was caught off line in added time.
The win takes the Clever Boys out of the bottom three for the first time this season, while the woes for Celtic continues.